.

Antarctica’s Whales

January, 2020 | Wildlife

Whale watching is hands down one of the top activities on all our voyages. How could it not be? The Antarctic Peninsula is a prime zone for whale watching, and with its endless vistas and exquisite bays, it’s whale heaven! A variety of species of whales are seen throughout the year, with February and March being the peak months.

Orcas, also known as “killer whales,” “sea-wolves,” or by their cuddlier name, “sea-pandas,” may seem familiar and friendly, but these pack-hunters are ferocious and cunning, capable of killing their prey with careful strategy and astounding group effort. Identifiable by their distinct black and white coloring, Orcas can sometimes be seen on our voyages, enjoying flipper-slapping, breaching and other show-stopping moves.

An Orca breaching alongside the ship

A Humpback waves hello in Bransfield Strait

The real show-offs of the species, Humpback whales are very curious, and it’s not uncommon for them to come and investigate our inflatable Zodiac boats. We are careful to always keep a safe and respectful distance from these majestic creatures, but sometimes they have other ideas! Known for their astonishing acrobatics, we regularly see Humpbacks breaching, lob-tailing and slapping the water, putting on quite the show. Look for the accentuated hump in front of their dorsal fin.

The elusive Minke whales are graceful and elegant, their sleek backs peeking out as they glide just under the surface of the sea. Minkes are filter-feeding whales, the smallest species of Baleen whales, still weighing in at 7-10 tons! They are curious creatures and are frequently seen around the pack ice.

Named because in early whaling times they were the “right” whale to capture, Southern Right whales were desired due to the fact that they were considered the easiest to kill due to their proximity to shore and slower speed. Less streamlined than other whales, they are known to perform mesmerizing tail waves (which Northern Right whales curiously can’t do) and have large bulbous heads covered in callosities, which is a lovely mix of barnacles, worms and lice.

During your voyage to Antarctica you may also be lucky enough to catch sight of Fin whales, Sei whales, Sperm whales, and *gasp* perhaps even the rarely seen Blue whale. As we explore this amazing and remote region we are at the whims of these spectacular animals, so while sightings aren’t guaranteed, our deep knowledge of the area allows us to know the right places to visit to make your whale encounter experience all the more likely. So, make sure you have lots of room on your camera, stand at the ready, and prepare yourself for some of the most astonishing moments of your expedition.

A Southern Right whale and her calf

Interested in booking a a voyage to Antarctica with us? Contact your preferred travel professional or reach out to us here.